The Tree of a Son of Skye

History | Culture | Ancestry

The McLartys of Craignish

There are always parts of a family tree that you feel more drawn to than others. Quite often there isn’t really a rational explanation for this as all our ancestors ‘own’ an equal part of our ancestry, whether they were good or bad, or whether or not we can relate to them. I suspect perhaps that we sub-consciously become attracted to parts of the tree that we feel more accurately represent how we would like to be perceived or amplify certain characteristics that reflect favourably on us as individuals.

With that in mind, I will draw your attention to the McLarty’s of Craignish, a line of my family tree which is given to me by my grandmother Euphemia McLarty. It is a part of the family that has always been the object of fascination for me, more so than most other areas of my family research. This has been reinforced by the fact that more than one part of my family originates from Craignish and I feel I can hardly turn a stone or look up a family in that area without finding a connection to my own folk.

Joan Blaeu's 1654 map of Craignish, shown here with North on the right, is incredibly accurate. Barbreck, Corranmore, Lergychonie, Barrackan, Soroba, Barrichbayen are easily identifiable.

Joan Blaeu’s astonishingly accurate map of Craignish from 1654. Barbreck, Corranmore, Lergychonie, Barrackan, Soroba and Barrichbayen are all easily identifiable. North is shown here to the right.

Craignish itself is a beautiful and largely undisturbed part of Scotland situated far from the main road arteries that cross Argyll. It is a remote and isolated rural community that is not particularly well known. JRR Tolkien was supposedly a visitor to Craignish, and it is said that he was very influenced by the landscape of the area.  As is so often the case in Scotland the quiet facade belies an eventful past. Craignish was once at the very heart of the ancient kingdom of Dal Riada, which had its capital at nearby Dunadd in the Kilmartin Glen. Around 6oo AD, Dal Riada was the pre-eminent political and military power in Western Scotland and Northern Ireland and the abundance of Dùns (hill forts) in the area give a strong indication of how significant Craignish was in the past.

This significance survives in local folklore, which tells of an ancient battle between the Scots and Norse at Barbreck, resulting in the death of a Viking Prince named Olaf. The folk story has a solid foundation in historical fact, as Irish annals from over 1000 years ago mention that a Danish prince named Olaf Tryggvesson was ‘defeated in dalriada’ in the year 986 AD.

The story goes that the Norse Army first engaged the Scots at a place called Druim Righ, meaning the ‘Ridge of the King’, the Scots then retreated a few hundred metres up the field to Sluggan. At this point the Scots rallied, received a body of reinforcements before driving the Norsemen back to Druim Righ, where Olaf was killed. According to legend, Olaf was slain in single combat with the Scottish king, who at this time would have been Kenneth III. A burial cist at a place called Dùnan Amhlaidh (Olaf’s mound) marks the supposed burial site of Prince Olaf. The ashes contained in the tomb were scattered some time before 1795 when the workmen who discovered the burial urn smashed it in an attempt to find buried treasure. The area around the battlefield is rich in other archaeological sites including many ancient burial mounds, cists and  standing stones. How some of these sites may have related to the battle may never be known, as a number were damaged in the subsequent agricultural activity that took place in the area. As is often the case, most of these archaeological sites probably pre-date the battle, but appropriated a new meaning in local folklore over the thousands of years that they have existed. Some relatively newer additions to the estate, such as the curious ‘Watchman’s Stone’, also provide a fascinating insight into local tradition.

Barbreck House situated at Druim Righ.

Barbreck House, home of the Campbells of Barbreck. The picture located (here) shows Barbreck House, Druim Righ is the flat field behind it and Sluggan is at the top of the picture, the place where the Scots supposedly rallied and drove back the Norsemen.

There is one other encounter between the Scots and Norse that exists in the folklore of Craignish. At a field on the western edge of the Craignish peninsula there are two huge circular cairns, 12 metres in diameter. According to tradition this was the location of a battle between the Scots and invading Norsemen. The battle was supposedly so bloody that the field was covered with the heads of the defeated Norsemen. This small part of Craignish subsequently became known as Dail nan Ceann, or Field of the Heads, with the cairns apparently being the burial place of the fallen warriors.

As an aside, I believe it is important to recognise that much of this folklore would not have survived had it not have been for Lord Archibald Campbell, the son of the Duke of Argyll. In 1889, Lord Campbell had become alarmed at the rapid disappearance of local traditions due to depopulation and the decline of Gaelic. Determined to preserve this important local culture, he collected and published anecdotes and stories associated with the folklore of Craignish in a book titled Craignish Tales. One such story speaks of MacLabhartaich na h-Airde, or McLarty of Aird, and his ingenious defence of Craignish from incoming invaders from Islay. It’s a classic story of the Gaelic world and speaks volumes about the rich oral culture that once existed not only in Craignish, but across all of the Western Highlands and Isles.

In more recent centuries, the area came under the control of Clan Campbell. In the Civil Wars of the 1640’s, the Campbell residence of Craignish Castle withstood a siege from Alasdair MacColla, who would go on to earn his nickname as ‘the devastator’ by burning Inveraray to the ground and decimating the Campbells at the Battle of Inverlochy.  In 1685, forces loyal to the Marquis of Atholl landed in Craignish at a bay called Port nan Athlaich to carry out the Government order to lay waste to the Campbell lands in Argyll. The invaders were beaten back and drowned in the bay. The Campbells of Craignish subsequently built the Georgian mansion of Barbreck House, completed for Major General John Campbell in 1789.

One of the cairns located on Dail nan Ceann.

One of two 12m wide cairns located at Dail nan Ceann.

It is at this time that my McLartys enter the historical record. The story begins with Alexander McLarty, who was probably born some time around 1730. Little else is known about him other than he is listed on his son’s marriage record of 1790 as ‘Alexr McLarty in Baravullin’. 224 years later there is still a working farm at Baravullin, although the area is now considerably depopulated. Baravullin is one of many farms in this area with traceable and recorded connections to the McLarty’s and associated families over many centuries. Unfortunately, I really have no other information about Alexander McLarty’s life, who he married, how many children he had or the date of his death.

The 1790 recording of the marriage of Donald McLarty and Mary Sinclair.

The marriage record of my 4xGreat Grandparents, Donald McLarty and Mary Sinclair. Importantly, it lists Alexander McLarty as living at Baravullin in 1790.

I do know however that he did have at least one son, my 4x Great Grandfather Donald McLarty, who was born around 1760 and married Mary Sinclair in 1790. Tax records from 1797 show him living at Lergychoniemore, as do birth records from 1807 and 1812. When his son James married in 1837, it shows Donald McLarty as still living at Lergychoniemore. From 1837 the facts surrounding his life become more uncertain. A Donald McLarty, son of Alexander, is listed as having died at Lergychonie in 1856 at the age of 83 and while it remains a strong possibility that it is the same Donald, I cannot find any corroborating evidence to confirm the identity.

A Horse Tax record from 1797 showing Donald McLarty living at Lergychoniemore in Craignish.

A Horse Tax record from 1797 showing Donald McLarty living at Lergychoniemore in Craignish.

Lergychoniemore in Craignish as seen from the A896.

Lergychoniemore in Craignish as seen from the A896.

The statistical accounts provide an fascinating glimpse into the life of the people of Craignish around this time. The accounts were compiled by Church of Scotland ministers between 1791 and 1845 and detail the everyday life, language, religion, economy and geography of the parish. The 1791-1799 account compiled by Rev. Lachlan McLachlan describes Craignish as a community that only spoke Gaelic, that the people were of “good health”, lived a “simple, frugal life” and were “simple in their mode of dress and living”. Similarly, they are described as “discreet in their conversation, hospitable” and “addicted to no vice in a remarkable degree”.  McLachlan also describes the people as eating mostly potatoes and fish, as beef was an expensive luxury that most could not afford. It is clear that the people of Craignish had regular trading links with Ireland and the usage of carts is described as a new introduction to the area in the 1790s, but they were used only in limited numbers on account of the “neglected” condition of the roads.

The 1843 account compiled by Rev. Archibald Francis Stewart describes Craignish as much the same as it was in the previous account. It was noted however that the roads had been greatly improved, and that the opening of the Crinan Canal allowed steamers to travel quickly from Glasgow and Greenock to visit Craignish. Coal imports were particularly sought after due to the poor nature of the peat in the area. Exports taken away by these steamers include 3,000 sheep and 1,000 black cattle every year.  The population is still described as Gaelic speaking in 1843, but that the language “had lost ground during the last 40 years”, that “English is now commonly understood”  and that some Gaelic words had become “obsolete” as “English vocables are often introduced by the natives into their conversation.”

Next in my line is Donald McLarty’s son, my 3x Great Grandfather Alexander McLarty. Alexander was born at Lergychoniemore in 1796 and records show him as living at Barbreckbeg in 1822, Barbreck Cottages on the estate of Barbreck House in 1841 and at Baranoil from 1861 until his death 2 years later. He was a ploughman and the 1861 census indicates that he was a farmer of 60 acres. Alexander McLarty, like his father, married a Sinclair and the record below shows that his wife Margaret Sinclair was a servant to Colin Campbell of Kintraw at the time of their marriage in 1822.

A map of Craignish showing from North to South, Lergychoniemore, Baravullin, Baranoil and Barbreck.

A map of Craignish showing (from North to South), Lergychoniemore, Baravullin, Baranoil, Barbreck and Lerigoligan.

The McLarty family's historic connection with Craignish survives through the geography of the area itself. A small rocky island in Loch Craignish, just off the coast of Kirkton, is called Sgier Dubh Mhic Lartai or in English, McLarty's Black Rock.

The McLarty family’s historic connection with Craignish survives through the geography of the area itself. A small rocky island in Loch Craignish, just off the coast of Kirkton, is called ‘Sgier Dubh Mhic Lartai’, translated roughly to ‘McLarty’s Black Rock’.

The marriage record of my 3x Great Grandparents Alexander McLarty and Margaret Sinclair in 1822.

The 1822 marriage record of my 3x Great Grandparents, Alexander McLarty and Margaret Sinclair.

My 2x Great Grandfather Archibald McLarty was the last of his line to be born in Craignish. He was born at Baravullin in 1840 at a time when the effects of the industrial revolution were starting to draw increasing numbers of highlanders away from their homeland.  Between 1841 and 1851 the family had moved to Baranoil and by 1861 Archie was working as a ploughman with his father. When his father died in 1863 he seems to have inherited the farm and continued to work the fields of Baranoil until he moved to Lerigoligan in 1880 as a farmer of 100 acres, 20 of which were arable. This was the same year that he married his first cousin, Ann McIntyre, whose mother Catherine McLarty was Archibald’s aunt. In 1895 he continued to live at Lerigoligan as a tenent of James Archibald Campbell of Barbreck, who set McLarty’s annual rent at a princely £55.

Archibald McLarty listed on the Ordnance Survey Place Name book of 1868-78.


Archibald McLarty is listed in the Glasgow Herald of 22 March 1895 as having stood for nomination in the 1895 Parish Council of Craignish. His campaign was unsuccessful and he was not elected.

The marriage between Ann McIntyre and Archibald McLarty produced at least one child who lived to adulthood, but Ann McIntyre died in 1897 at the age of 53. Between 1897 and 1899 Archibald McLarty left Craignish for Gallanach, near Oban. In March 1899 he married my Great-Great Grandmother Mary McLean in front of the witnesses Betsy McLullich and John McKinnon, which the 1901 census reveals to be their neighbours from Gallanachbeg. At the time of their marriage, Archibald was a 58 year old widow with a 15 year old son, while Mary McLean was 26 with a 2 year old illegitimate son whose name of Neil MacPherson McLean could be a reference of the identity of the father.

Archibald McLarty and Mary McLean’s first son together was born at Port-nan-Cuilc cottage in June 1899.  Almost exactly three years later, in June 1902, Mary gave birth to Sarah Ann McLarty and my Great Grandfather Donald McLarty at Gallanachmore Cottage.

Sarah Ann McLarty and my Great Grandfather Donald McLarty, circa 1920.

Sarah Ann McLarty and my Great Grandfather Donald McLarty, circa 1920. Sarah never married and died at the Greenock Royal Infirmary in 1929 at the age of 26.


The birth extract of my Great Grandfather alongside his sister in 1902.


Gallanachmore Cottage as it appeared circa 1904. The same view can be seen today (here). It is possible that the people in the photo are the McLarty family.

A family story relates that my Great Grandfather Donald McLarty went to school on the island of Kerrera. This would be logical as the ferry to Kerrera and the school house at Balliemore were just a few hundred metres from where Donald McLarty lived, much closer than travelling by road to Oban.  Again, like Craignish, Gallanach has had an eventful history given its remote location. The cottage at Gallanachmore faces out across the water to Kerrera and a place called Dail Righ, or ‘field of the King’. It is here that King Alexander II died in 1249 while mustering his forces to reconquer the Hebrides from the Norwegians. In 1263 the bays along the coast sheltered the 120 longships under the command of King Haakon of Norway before he sailed on to eventual defeat against the Scots at the Battle of Largs.

In more recent times the Sound of Kerrera was home to a naval minefield during the Second World War. Local tradition states that one night during the war, an officer of the Royal Navy took a young lady to the mine control tower to show her the controls. What happens next is a matter of conjecture, but whatever happened inside the control tower, the entire minefield was accidentally detonated.  During the Cold War, Gallanach took on global significance as the first Trans-Atlantic cable was laid between Gallanach Bay and Newfoundland in Canada in 1956. This cable was of vital importance, as it carried the hot line between the presidents of the USA and USSR.

The old school house on Kerrera, with Gallanach in the background.

The old school house on Kerrera, with Port-nan-Cuilc in the background.

Sometime between 1902 and 1905 the McLartys moved from Gallanachmore to Greenock. The 1911 census shows them as living at 26 West Burn Street in Greenock and interestingly also shows that Archie McLarty and his wife Mary McLean never taught my Great Grandfather their native language of Gaelic. The absence of ‘G & E’ next to Donald McLarty’s name in the census record is more profound that merely an absence of ink on a piece of paper, it marks the end of centuries of tradition under the crushing pressure of anglicisation. This was a common occurrence around this period and many parents felt that there was little point in passing on their language. Gaelic was portrayed as parochial and unrefined, the language of a primitive and unsophisticated past. English was seen as progressive, modern and the accepted language of empire and state institutions.  English also had complete dominance in education as the 1872 Education Act expressively forbid the use of Gaelic within the education system. Children caught speaking the language following the act were physically beaten and it wasn’t until 1918 that Gaelic reentered the education system.  By 1918 however it was too late,  the legislation of 1872 along with depopulation, the effects of World War One and institutional discrimination against Gaelic had decimated the number of speakers. In 1881 there were 231,000 people in Scotland who spoke only Gaelic, by 1911 there was a mere 8,400. Archie McLarty would die at Laird Street in Greenock in 1921, and his wife Mary McLean died shortly afterwards in 1925. When they died the Gaelic language of our family died with them.

The 1911 census with Archie McLarty and Mary McLean listed as "G & E", meaning they were speakers of Gaelic and English.

The 1911 census with Archie McLarty and Mary McLean listed as “G & E”, meaning they were speakers of Gaelic and English. My Great Grandfather Donald McLarty was not taught the language.

In 1923, my Great Grandfather Donald McLarty married my Great Grandmother Isabella Smith Petrie at 1 Wallace Place, the Municipal Building, in Greenock. In his marriage certificate Donald is listed as an  ‘Aerated Water Salesman’ for AG Barr, the makers of what would become Scotland’s national drink, Iron Bru. Family tradition states that he became the longest serving member of AG Barr. Another staff member apparently disputed this claim but there were no papers to confirm his story and Donald continued to say that he was the longest serving employee with over 50 years of service. When Donald started with the company he was delivering the drinks with a horse and cart, and by the time he had retired the mass produced drinks were being sent all over the world. On retiring, Donald was visited by none other than Mr Barr himself, who presented him with a gold watch and told him that he had never had such a hard working employee. He was offered a holiday to anywhere he wanted in thanks for his service and Donald naturally chose Oban. You can only wonder if he managed to visit his birthplace at Gallanachmore while he was there. Donald lived at Hill Street and then Clydeview Road in Greenock, both of these streets have since been demolished and are now unrecognisable. He passed away in 1989.

Wallace Place as it would of appeared in 1923. Opened in 1882 as the General Post Office, it was then bought and converted to a public library. The money for the purchase was donated by Andrew Carnegie, who visited the building in October 1902.

Wallace Square as it would of appeared in 1923. The ornate building that is pictured was originally opened in 1882 as the General Post Office, it was then bought and converted into a public library. The money for the purchase was donated by Andrew Carnegie, who visited the building in October 1902.

Wallace Square as it looked in 2011. My Great-Grandparents were married at 1 Wallace Place, which can be seen as the red door at the centre-left of the picture. In 1923 this part of the Municipal building served as the office of births, deaths and marriages.

Wallace Place and Wallace Square as it looked in 2011. My Great-Grandparents were married at 1 Wallace Place, which can be seen as the red door on the corner of the Municipal Building at the centre-left of the picture. In 1923 it served as the office of births, deaths and marriages. The carpark and library building on the right is known as Wallace Square.

My Grandmother Euphemia Graham Petrie McLarty was the oldest of the three children of Donald McLarty and Isabella Petrie. Isabella Petrie’s own mother was Euphemia Graham, who had three children named Euphemia Graham Petrie in 1904, 1918 and 1921. At least two of these babies did not survive infancy and it appears that my Grandmother, born just two years after the third Euphemia Graham Petrie was named Euphemia Graham Petrie McLarty in honor of these children.

My Gran was born at 1 John street in Gourock in 1923, but it remains a mystery as to why she was born there. Our family have no noticeable family link to Gourock, and the family is known to have been living at Hill Street in Greenock around this time. Further compounding the mystery is the fact that whatever building existed at 1 John Street no longer exists, it has long been demolished and small modern shops have replaced the site. Historic maps of the area don’t seem to shed any further light on the mystery either. Gran was always quick to remind people however that she was “a Gourockian” as a result, just to make sure people were aware of that wee point of difference. She had two siblings, Archie McLarty who died around 1954 at the age of 26 from tuberculosis, leaving behind a wife and four children, and also Sarah ‘Nancy’ McLarty who married Terence Macer, a seaman from Manchester.

My Grandparents, Euphemia McLarty and Neil Hardie on their wedding day in 1945.

My Grandparents, Euphemia McLarty and Neil Hardie on their wedding day in 1945.

Euphemia McLarty (left) with her sister Nancy.

Euphemia McLarty (left) with her sister Nancy.

My Grandmother's brother Archie McLarty. My Gran kept this picture next to her bed for her whole life.

My Grandmother’s brother Archie McLarty. My Gran kept this picture next to her bed for her whole life.

The McLarty family has changed as society has changed. The family had existed in a largely unaltered condition for many centuries, then in just one or two generations the way of life changed dramatically from Gaelic speaking tenant farmers, to English speaking businessmen. The pace of change is incredible, and we can see that change continuing from my Great-Grandfather’s generation to my own. Despite this, I hope it is a constant that the McLartys, the people of Craignish and the timeless history of that parish are never forgotten.


44 comments on “The McLartys of Craignish

  1. Gail Kasprick
    March 16, 2014

    I am also a descendent of the McLarty family of Craignish. In Canada. My line is not the same as you, but I think if we could go back another generation or two, they would connect. My 5X great grandfather was born at Soroba, on the edge of present day Ardfern. You will want to read the story McLarty of Aird. It’s in an old book that’s available online called Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition, and is a classic. Google will find it. Aird Farm still exists, and is located at the end of the Craignish Peninsula. My 6X great grandfather was born there.

    • Colin MacDonald
      March 17, 2014

      Hi Gail, thanks for the message. I’m sure there is probably a connection with our McLartys if you go back far enough. I have other family associations in the area apart from the McLartys, including Livingstons and McIssacs who lived at Aird and Kirkton. Any connection there?

      Yes I am aware of the McLarty of Aird story, I have a copy of the book at home. I am not in the habit of praising Campbell Lords, but in this situation we have to be very thankful to Lord Archibald Campbell for having the foresight to document the local folklore in his work. I have edited the article and provided links so that anyone wishing to have a read of it can do so.

  2. Jo Woolf
    June 20, 2014

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this – what a fascinating family tree, and wonderful to have roots in such a beautiful part of Argyll. I’m going to be taking a look at Craignish Tales. Your great-uncle Archie could have been a movie star! 🙂

    • Colin MacDonald
      June 20, 2014

      Thanks very much Jo. I know if my Gran was alive today she would have been happy to hear that comment. She loved her brother and after his death at such a young age she kept his photo next to her right up until her last days.

      Argyll is such a special place, especially Craignish. Craignish Tales just shows you how rich the oral history was, the modern world is a barren landscape in comparison!

  3. Fi Campbell
    November 27, 2014

    Very interesting tree. I think I’m related to an Ann Mclarty who married a Buchanan around 1810. Their daughter Ann married a Campbell whose family had lived at or from Barbreck. I know my gx4 grandfather died at kintraw. I visited craignish before I did my research so do hope to come back. Fiona

    • Colin MacDonald
      December 1, 2014

      Hi, thanks for the message. It is entirely possible that we are related through the McLartys. Do you have more details about Ann McLarty? I was at Craignish just a few weeks ago but hope to head back up again some time in the new year.

  4. John MacLarty
    February 6, 2015

    An interesting read, I am John Alexander MacLarty and am a direct descendant of the McLarty’s of the Craignish farms of Gartcharran and Achanarnish. I live in Skye now but feel that Argyll is my true home. I have an original newspaper cutting of the story of ‘The Craignish Archer’ and am also related to a Donald MacLarty of Craignish (whose stone is inside the old church at Kirkton) Would be interested in making contact with the author of this piece.

    • Colin MacDonald
      February 6, 2015

      Hi John, thanks for getting in touch, nice to hear from a MacLarty, as there are not many about! I was up in Craignish (and Skye) about 3 months ago and took photos of the burial stones inside the old parish church at Kirkton. I couldn’t find an immediate connection with the Donald McLarty that I think you mean, but there was another stone next to it for a Helen Frazer who married Donald McLarty from Baranoil. This Donald McLarty was my Great-Grandpa’s Uncle.

      We had a family connection with this branch of the McLarty’s until relatively recent times. My Gran (Euphemia McLarty) used to go on summer visits to Craignish and visit her second cousin Helen Frazer McLarty (grand-daughter of one of the Donald’s buried at Kirkton). My Mum can still vaguely remember going on these trips as a wee girl.

      Given how small Craignish was, I’m sure that if we are not connected through the McLartys we are linked through one of the other families.

  5. Cathie Hewitt
    March 9, 2015

    Hello. I am also related to the Craignish McLartys. Christian McLarty married John McDougall in 1795 and I have a record of them having a son Donald. The trail is fairly hard as I cannot find who her relatives were. Loved reading your story!

    • Colin MacDonald
      March 9, 2015

      Hi Cathie, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Always nice to hear from a McLarty descendent. I’m happy to help you with this part of your research if you forward me your email address.

      • Carol Rice Bedwell
        June 29, 2017

        Thanks I enjoyed the McLarty story , I am researching my ancestor Adam Charles McLarty born ca 1766 ??? his son is my 3rd grt grandfather Benjamin Burkhart McLarty born ca 1799-1800 possibly in England/Ireland/Scotland ? the rest of his siblings all born in St Johns Newfoundland Canada in the 1800’s , Benjamin Immigrated to New York USA in 1824 . On his passenger ship list it stated he was a resident of England.I am trying to locate the origin of his father Adam McLarty.I tried tracing him through the Freemasons with no help. He died in Newfoundland in 1824 and his obituary read that there were many British big wigs attended his funeral. He was married to Anne ??? They had a baby that was born before Benjamin in 1798 named John that died so I assume Adam’s father was John McLarty according to the naming pattern ,he was born ca, 1730’s–40’s….So the first born was John , Then Benjaim ,Then Adam and 12 more …..I would love some advice on how to proceed with this search . I am at a brick wall in Canada.please contact me at………..thank you Carol

  6. Cathie Hewitt
    March 9, 2015

    Thank you Colin, I appreciate your help.

  7. John MacLarty
    March 10, 2015

    Colin – what is your email address? I have a family tree which I could send to you written out by Morag McNeil (nee McLarty) a distant cousin of mine who was married to the great Lewis gaelic singer and piper Finlay McNeil. You may find it interesting for your research. Wish my father was around as he was an expert in the history of the McLarty’s of Craignish and could recall all the names for many generations back.
    John Alex. MacLarty

    • Colin MacDonald
      March 10, 2015

      That would be great John. You can contact me on [removed]

    • Anne Clark
      April 30, 2016

      John – I’ve just started researching my family connections to Craignish and my starting point is Peter Campbell whose son Duncan Campbell married a Mary McNeill (born of Archibald McNeill). All of this family lived at Gartcharran at the time of Duncan and Mary’s marriage (in 1808). I would love to see the McNeil family tree if possible.

  8. Mark Maclarty
    March 11, 2015

    Hi, I may be related to the very McLarty’s you are writing about. My grandfather was Alexander MacLarty born in Craignish in 1930 to Archibald MacLarty. I believe Archibald changed our name to MacLarty from McLarty. I believe he was married to Helen, however I am unsure (will find out more). This is as far as I have gone to date but will be digging deeper.

    • Colin MacDonald
      March 11, 2015

      Hi Mark, that seems quite possible. If you could get it back another generation that might help tie it up to my family tree or to John’s tree. Having a look on Scotland’s people there is only one Alexander McLarty born between 1929-1931 and he was born in Kilmartin (close to Craignish). If you order that record it will tell you more.

  9. John MacLarty
    March 11, 2015

    Hi Mark, the earliest I can go back at present is to a Donald McLarty, tenant at Aird farm in Craignish, born 1779 who married Jean McLarty of Barravullin who had many children one of whom was Archie who moved with his mother to Greenock between 1861 and 1870. My family come from the same parents (Donald & Jean McLarty) via Alex, a brother of Archie – who married Grace Cameron, one of whose children was Alex McLarty who married Jean McTavish who in turn produced my grandfather Alex (who married Mary Burns Beveridge) who in turn produced my own father John Beveridge McLarty. I know that McLarty’s went to both Edinburgh and Greenock in times gone by. Alex and Archie mentioned above had brothers Angus, James and Donald and sisters Mary, Christina, Sarah, Ann and Jane.

  10. Mark Maclarty
    March 13, 2015

    Hi John/Colin,

    I have found Archibald’s birth/baptism and death certificates which may help me tie up a few bits. So Archibald McLarty was born 1903 at Barbreck Home Farm, Craignish, His father was Alexander McLarty (no DOB) and Mary McLarty (was Craig) they married in 1891 in Kilbride,Craignish.
    Archibald married Catherine (not Helen, woops) McDougall Rowan 1929 they went on to have 8 children, 5 boys and 3 girls one of which was my grandfather. I know they moved from Craignish and ended up in St Fillans and Crieff area where a lot of them still live.

    Still some digging to do, I will have a look on Scotland’s people thank you Colin, I dare say there are many more pieces to the puzzle in my granfathers old books etc, which I plan on look through when I next get up there (very soon).

  11. Colin MacDonald
    March 13, 2015

    Hi Mark,

    I’m pleased to see that from the information you have provided, we are actually not very distantly related. Your 2xGreat Grandpa and my Great-Grandpa were cousins. My Gran, Euphemia McLarty used to visit your Great-Grandfather’s sister Helen Frazer McLarty in Craignish until she died in the 1970s (my Mum met her as a child and still remembers her as ‘Mrs Shaw’, her married name).

    The Alexander McLarty that is your 2xGreat-Grandfather, his father was Donald McLarty (1828-1900) and he married Helen Frazer (1831-1895). Donald’s parents were Alexander McLarty and Margaret Sinclair as listed in this blog post.

    In regards to Donald McLarty (1828-1900) he is buried in the remains of the church at Kirkton, I was just there a few months ago and his tombstone is well preserved. I can send you a picture of it if you’d like to pass on your email address. I can also send you all the information, records and other stuff about the family too if you want to see it.

    • Mark Maclarty
      March 18, 2015

      Hi Colin, I pointed my dad in the direction of this article and he found it very interesting and came back with yes we are related to the Shaws they used to own/run the Corran Ferry near Fort William. I would love to see what you have, my email is .Seems we have a lot of Alexander M(a)cLartys in the family.

      • Colin MacDonald
        March 18, 2015

        Hi Mark, I have emailed you with some extra information.

  12. John MacLarty
    March 13, 2015

    Hi Mark,
    If you are related to the Crieff and St.Fillans MacLarty’s then we are related as my Grandfather was a cousin of Alex McLarty of Crieff – that well known and notorious businessman “Alex the Fox”. I was nearly ran out of a pub one night in Crieff for mentioning the fact I may was a distant cousin. Had a bit of a reputation. Once I find out more I will keep everyone informed.

    • Mark Maclarty
      March 18, 2015

      HI John,

      Ah yes that would be my grandfather ‘Alex the fox’ is a name he was certainly known for. He himself has quite a history, my dad and his friend John Cameron wrote quite a fitting eulogy/obituary to him in Farmers weekly:

      Haha that does make me laugh about the pub, for every one person you meet who didn’t favour the man another will speak highly of him. He definitely had a reputation. He was quite the stalker, I was fortunate enough to have gone out with him quite a few times before he passed on and have fond memories of those days.

      I will see if I can dig any further also.

  13. Mark Maclarty
    March 16, 2015

    Hi Colin, I pointed my dad in the direction of this article and he found it very interesting and came back with yes we are related to the Shaws they used to own/run the Corran Ferry near Fort William. I would love to see what you have, my email is .Seems we have a lot of Alexander M(a)cLartys in the family.

    HI John,

    Ah yes that would be my grandfather ‘Alex the fox’ is a name he was certainly known for. He himself has quite a history, my dad and his friend John Cameron wrote quite a fitting eulogy/obituary to him in Farmers weekly:

    Haha that does make me laugh about the pub, for every one person you meet who didn’t favour the man another will speak highly of him. He definitely had a reputation. He was quite the stalker, I was fortunate enough to have gone out with him quite a few times before he passed on and have fond memories of those days.

    I will see if I can dig any further also.

  14. Mark Maclarty
    March 18, 2015

    I have replied to you both but it is still awaiting moderation.

    • Fiona Donn
      November 26, 2017

      Hi Colin and Mark, Alexander MacLarty is my 4 x great grandfather. His son was Donald MacLarty (1828) and his son is the Alexander MacLarty (1867) that Mark mentions above. He and his wife Mary Craig are my Grandmother’s grandparents. I’d love to hear from either of you and I’m happy to help with further research. My email is

  15. Duff MacDonald
    March 25, 2015

    Great article! I am coming to Scotland this next month and would love to know more about where my McLarty connection came from on the Island of Tiree. My GG Grans father was Donald McLarty. My GG Grandmother was Catherine McLarty (nee MacKinnon) Catherine moved to Glencoe Ontario Canada in about 1850 at age of 7 I THINK with her father. Does anyone have any more info on this McLarty line?? Where they lived on Tiree? i would love to visit the site.
    Duff MacDonald

    • Colin MacDonald
      March 25, 2015

      Hi Duff, just having a quick look online I do see some McLartys listed on Tiree in the early 1800s, so that could be a possible connection. McLarty is not a name usually associated with Tiree, so you might be able to narrow it down to a reasonably small pool of people. I hope you are able to find out more information.

  16. Duff MacDonald
    April 16, 2015

    Thanks so much! I hope I do find some more info. Does anyone have any more connections for me?

  17. Duff MacDonald
    April 16, 2015

    My relative Donald McLarty moved to Canada (Glencoe Ontario Canada) and settled there. His young daughter was 7, Catherine McLarty, when she boarded the ship from Tiree in 1950-53 ish) Donald settled in Glencoe and stayed there the rest of his days.

  18. Pingback: Demolished Heritage | The Tree of a Son of Skye

  19. Louise MacLarty
    September 10, 2015

    Very interesting! My husband, Donald, is a nephew of Alex MacLarty as mentioned by Mark & John above. We went to Craignish to do a bit of researching but weren’t that successful – we found the area where the family were brought up in the 30s but the old house looked to be knocked down and replaced by a modern build. Armed with this information a return trip may be much more enlightening!

    • Colin MacDonald
      September 11, 2015

      Hi Louise,

      Thanks for the comment, I seem to have rallied every McLarty in Scotland to this webpage! It’s interesting to hear your husband is Donald McLarty, certainly a common name amongst the family. Which house was it that you visited? I would be interested in hearing a bit about your part of the family if you were willing. If you need any help with your research please let me know.

  20. Margaret Hartley
    December 8, 2015

    Good morning,

    A great family story you have published here with depth.

    I have recently completed my family research after many years on my McGregors of Glengairn and it is now printed for family.

    I have now been asked by my brother-in-law to do the same for him – he being Ewen McLarty born in Taynuilt Oban but a resident of Australia for many years.

    He is a descendant of one of your McLartys from James b. 1837 son of Donald b.1760 son of Alexander(Allexander).

    Like you I have not found much corroborating evidence so far for the death of Donald but still searching.

    Also, Alexander(Allexander) may have other children according to the family search IGI. Jannnet b. 1757, John b. 1758, Donald b. Feb. 1760 and Margaret b. Dec 1760.

    I have yet to corroborate any of these with marriages, deaths etc but it looks interesting..

    What are your thoughts?

    Margaret Hartley

    • Colin MacDonald
      February 23, 2016

      Hi Margaret,

      Thanks for the comment and apologies for the belated reply. I would be happy to have a look at what information you have for the McLarty family. I feel that I’ve really hit a brick wall, but to get the family back to the mid-1700s is still a good achievement. I’m not certain at this stage what else we could do to try and piece together the family before the Alexander McLarty that we think was born about 1730.

  21. Leanne Turnbull
    August 11, 2016

    Hello from Australia,
    I stumbled across your website by chance while googling a map for Craignish in the 1850s …and what a lucky find it was too. We are currently researching and writing our own ancestors stories which include Augusta McLarty (1833-1871) daughter of Alexander McLarty and Margaret Sinclair. Augusta is the first wife of my 2nd great-grandfather James Cullen.
    You can imagine how excited I was to see Alexander McLarty mentioned on your page. Thank you for clarifying the spelling of Barbreckbeg (I had been looking for it, hence my map search). I’m wondering if you know exactly where it might have been. The Ordnance Survey Name Books of 1868-1878 only mention the name Barbreck (this time frame is a bit later than when Alexander & Margaret were there).
    Kind regards
    Leanne Turnbull

    • Colin MacDonald
      August 11, 2016

      Hi Leanne, Barbreckbeg is a bit of a strange one but I will email you with my thoughts on where I think it is.

  22. Shan Mclarty
    November 22, 2016

    Hello there my name is Shan Mclarty firstly what a great read. Im from Australia and have just started the Mclarty side , my 2x great grandfather and step 2x great grandfather came to Australia in the 1860s, Archibald Mclarty (1835-1929) and Mary McNichol (1836 -1873). I’ve got the Australian side down pat which was difficult in itself but am struggling with the Scottish side. Marys parents are listed as Duncan Mcnicol and Margaret Ferguson from Argyll but Archibalds parents are just a stab in the dark, Ive tentaively put Donald Mclarty and Agnes “Agnes” Mckechnie apparently in the craignish area down , othe trees have several different people. Any hints, ideas how I can go about it, would love to hear from you.


    • Colin MacDonald
      November 22, 2016

      Hi Shan, thanks for getting in touch. I have emailed you with some information.

  23. Shan Mclarty
    November 22, 2016

    Oops I meant Agnes “Ann” Mckechnie

  24. Dig Ancestry Services
    January 19, 2018

    Hello everyone – I have just come across this great read. A bit late to the party it seems! I am a McTavish and live in Ontario, Canada. While researching my McTavish ancestors, I have been coming across the McLarty name quite a bit – they seem to have inter-mingled a fair bit. Many of my McTavish ancestors anglicized their name to Thomson – some while they were in Argyll and some when the emigrated to Canada. I have several instances of the McLarty/McTavish marriages – one mentioned above: Alexander McLarty to Jean McTavish but also Archibald Mclarty to Isobel McTavish (they emigrated to Ontario). Archibald was born in 1795 at Castletown and is the son of Angus McLarty and Ann Sinclair. Also, I have a Jean McLarty (born 1795) from Craignish who married John McTavish in 1814 at Craignish – they also emigrated to Ontario in 1842 settling in Middlesex County. Her marriage record lists her father as Alexander but no mother is listed. I also have an Alexander McLarty baptised in 1789 in Craignish, with father named Alexander. I may be incorrectly tying this Alexander to a marriage in Kilmartin in 1819 to Mary McTavish. They emigrated to Elgin County in Ontario in about 1830.
    Just trying to sort some of the pieces of my tree out!

    Heather McTavish Taylor

    • John MacLarty
      January 25, 2018

      Hello Dig Ancestry Services-I am John Alex MacLarty from Skye and my great Grandfather Alex McLarty was married to Jean MacTavish so she is my Great Granny – she died in 1941 at 79 years old. This particular Alex McLarty was the grandson of Angus McLarty who was married to Margaret Sinclair – so that surname arises again. I have an interesting family tree that was given to me by Morag MacNeil (MacLarty) and a very, very early picture of Jean MacTavishs gravestone outside Lochgilphead at Achnabreac Cemetery. If you would like a copy – or any other MacLartys out would like a copy then email me at

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on January 29, 2014 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: